If 2011 was known for anything, it was for producing some of the finest historical dramas seen on television in recent years. From the steamy, violent politics of ancient Rome to the even more ruthless ones of Renaissance Italy, 2011 was a great year for those who love to see the past brought to life on television.
Although it was fated not to be renewed for a second season, the Starz series "Camelot" nevertheless got off to a strong start, with a great cast and a compelling storyline that brought a new angle to what is possibly the most adapted of all British legends. The characters are real and believable and, while they are recognizable as the classic heroes and villains from the original tales, there's enough different about them to make this show worth watching.
Following its success with the very steamy and successful series "The Tudors," Showtime followed it up with this hit series about one of the most infamous families from Renaissance Italy. With a cast led by the indomitable Jeremy Irons, how could a show possibly go wrong? Although, like all historical dramas, it takes some liberties with history, it does manage to give a human face to some of the most maligned historical figures, while also managing to keep us as audiences utterly wrapped up in the drama.
This miniseries, which serves as a prequel to the other aspects of Starz's show dealing with the trials and eventual uprising of the gladiator Spartacus, peels away the layers of time to show the seediness and utter bloodthirstiness of Roman culture. Here we see the ways in which the famous and the wealthy trade on the lives of the men and women that surround them, all in an attempt to make sure that they claw their way to the top as quickly and painlessly as possible. Full of enough sex and blood to sate anyone's appetite, this is certainly an eye-opening perspective on ancient Rome.
Whether you love dramas, history, or some combination of the two, you are sure to get a lot out of the many superb historical dramas produced in 2011. We can only hope that with continued ratings success we will get to see more explorations of the past. After all, there is nothing so enjoyable as comparing our own lives to those who have come before.